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COLLEGE BASKETBALL NCAA TOURNAMENT

East Regional

March 13, 1997|CHRIS DUFRESNE

* No. 1 North Carolina (24-6) vs. No. 16 Fairfield (11-18)--The Tar Heels have a 12-game winning streak and the tournament's most engaging story line as Coach Dean Smith tries to tie Adolph Rupp's record for victories at 876. Two Tar Heels to watch are freshman point guard Ed Cota, who has improved greatly after a shaky start, and Shammond Williams, the ACC tournament MVP. Don't be surprised if Fairfield, one of two teams with losing records in the tournament, keeps the game close for a while by using an old Smith tactic--the stall.

* No. 8 Indiana (22-10) vs. No. 9 Colorado (21-9)--The Hoosiers have lost in the first round in each of the last two seasons. Coach Bob Knight is 40-17 in NCAA tournament games but has reached the Final Four only once--1992--since winning his last title in 1987. Indiana's star of late has been freshman point guard A.J. Guyton, who scored 31 points in a come-from-behind win at Michigan. The Buffaloes are making their first NCAA appearance since 1969. Colorado guard Chauncey Billups is spectacular, averaging 19.5 points, five assists and five rebounds. He will need help from forward Martice Moore, who shot only 36% this season.

* No. 5 California (21-8) vs. No. 12 Princeton (24-3)--The Bears proved there was life after losing star guard Ed Gray for the season by defeating Arizona in their last Pac-10 game. Senior guard Randy Duck scored 22 in the victory over Arizona, and forward Tony Gonzalez combined for 35 points in the sweep of the Arizona schools. Longtime assistant Bill Carmody took over from Pete Carril and guided the still-methodical Tigers to one of their greatest seasons. Princeton has won 19 in a row.

* No. 4 Villanova (23-9) vs. No. 13 Long Island (21-8)--The Wildcats have been inconsistent all season, most recently losing to Boston College in the Big East tournament. Tim Thomas needs to get more aggressive, although the real star of the team is guard Alvin Williams. The Blackbirds are led by Charles Jones, the nation's leading scorer, and former prep bad boy Richie Parker, but don't have the inside game to stay with Villanova.

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